How do I justify the purchase of a Mac for web development?
May 8, 2008 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Is there a definitive source I can point to or glean knowledge from in order to justify the purchase of a Mac for web development and design?

I'm trying to put together a request for the purchase of a MacBook Pro. I have already included its ability to enable my working from the road. I've also thrown in the increasing number of Safari/MacOS users accessing our site. I'm in search of arguments in favor of the Mac (for development and design) which don't dwell on stability and security, but rather how the Mac is a better platform for development.

Color me rather uneducated, but at a recent technology conference I was surprised to find most of the developers in attendance claimed to use Macs for all their coding work. As a web developer by trade (and designer by necessity as our organization is small) I have worked with varying flavours of Windows and Linux/Unix over the years. While I previously coded mostly by hand, I switched to DreamWeaver when my org moved to ColdFusion. A kind person recently pointed me to CFEclipse which has me rather excited (I do love code snippets).

I work for a large state university, in case that makes a difference. I've found a few articles that are not quite what I'm looking for (but are close).

Will switching to a mac make developing awesome?

Why Mac? 37signals can tell you
The video on this one doesn't seem to be there anymore.

Almost half of Princeton computer purchases are Macs
posted by Awkward Turtle to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I cannot direct you to sites, but 2 argument that could be made leap to mind:
1) flexibility - being able to dual boot to OSX or Windows means that you can ensure the site's look and behavior in multiple browsers
2) fonts - if the site works with vendors to provide graphics, flash, etc... most of those folks work with Macs and for you to have control of your content, you're going to need to be able to render those Mac fonts.
posted by Tasanova at 1:51 PM on May 8, 2008

Off the top of my head:

- OS X includes Apache, PHP, Rails, and other web technologies pre-installed, which is nice.
- You can run Windows with Boot Camp or in Parallels for testing sites on Windows browsers.
- TextMate and Coda are my coding applications of choice, both of which are Mac only.
posted by daser at 1:54 PM on May 8, 2008

Personally, I dont believe there are any definitive resources. Can you prove that you personally are a better dev on a Mac?

FWIW, if you are used to Dreamweaver on Windows, you might not like it on Mac. It's pretty bad. That would be a pretty good case against going to Mac, as CF and Dreamweaver integration are pretty tight. Also, I havent found any really good WYSIWYG editors on OS X.

Also, be aware that Safari is available for Windows, if you try to bring up the point of testing for Mac users.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:00 PM on May 8, 2008

If you're doing back-end stuff, you can use several Parallels VMs, and install a different version of PHP/MySQL on each, which means that you can test things on several different configurations in a coffee shop somewhere.

I do a lot of Flash stuff, and one of the reasons I got a mac was that the Mac handles fonts better. It's more likely that the MAc will be able to use a PC font than vice versa.
posted by fnerg at 2:00 PM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

The only truly legitimate reason I've ever heard (there are, frankly, perfectly reasonable work-arounds for just about every other conceivable issue) is that Mac graphics hardware has a wider spectrum response envelope and a larger dynamic range. Specifically, Macs are capable of displaying certain deep shades of blue, certain bright yellows, etc., that on a PC simply get clipped to black, yellow, white, or whatever.
posted by ChasFile at 2:01 PM on May 8, 2008

ChasFile: Color gamut is actually a function of the display hardware (CRT, LCD) rather than the video card.
posted by squid patrol at 2:08 PM on May 8, 2008

Definitely font treatment (natural anti-aliasing and such). Of course, testing is useful as well. And I second Coda as a pretty handy tool.
posted by rlef98 at 2:26 PM on May 8, 2008

If you have a Windows machine available to you as a desktop, then having a Mac available (as a laptop or whatever) will allow you to test your work on both platforms. This is really important if you're doing anything at all "fancy". Internet Explorer on the Mac has a completely different codebase than for Windows, for example (not saying a lot of Mac users will be using IE, but this is an extreme example of why testing on both platforms is good).

Really, though, you can do whatever work you need for the Web on a PC or a Mac, I think.

But a pro really should have both platforms available for testing. Also, if someone reports a weird effect that only appears on a Mac browser.... what are you going to do? If you have a Mac yourself, you can at least try to duplicate the problem.
posted by amtho at 2:27 PM on May 8, 2008

git runs natively on OS X.
posted by nicwolff at 2:32 PM on May 8, 2008

Can you argue that having a Mac is just way more cool? I am sure image is important to your
posted by snowjoe at 2:54 PM on May 8, 2008

I switched from Windows to Mac for web dev for four main reasons:

1. My server-side development is primarily LAMP and I use Linux hosting, so OS X is a better fit for that.
2. It's slightly better for browser testing, thanks to Parallels/Fusion.
3. I spend most of the day reading/writing/coding and strongly prefer OS X's font rendering.
4. I really like some of the elegant apps, although the major ones are no better than under Windows.

To be honest, there isn't a 'killer app' justification, it's mostly about personal preference.
posted by malevolent at 3:07 PM on May 8, 2008

Internet Explorer for Mac was discontinued on December 31, 2005 and hasn't been included in OS X since Tiger was released on April 29, 2005.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:01 PM on May 8, 2008

I think odinsdream has it. If there's something that needs Windows, you can do it on Mac, but if there's something which requires Mac, you can't do it on Windows. And web development is all about the testing: multiple browsers, multiple versions, multiple platforms.

I'd put it like this:
  • If they want you to do your job properly, you'll need to regularly use more than one OS ...
  • ...which would mean buying a Mac anyway...
  • really their choice is between
    • buying you two computers, one of which would mostly go unused, or
    • buying you one computer which you would use all the time.

posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:43 PM on May 8, 2008

The Web is all about making your site work on a multiple of platforms and devices. The Mac is the only computer that will run Mac, XP, Vista, Unix, etc. It is AFAIK the only platform that Apple is releasing iPhone development tools.
posted by Gungho at 7:52 PM on May 8, 2008

This is probably just personal preference, but for the design aspect of it, the keyboard shortcuts feel 100x more intuitive and faster. I am a PC convert (from a long time ago) and use Windows at work. But my fingers get a-movin' on the mac in a way they don't on windows.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:55 PM on May 8, 2008

Textmate. An excellent text and programming editor. I use it quite a lot. Other essential apps like Transmit make FTP a breeze.

There's also excellent tools for testing and developing environments, like MAMP.

And yes, the ability to test many many different configurations and browsers with one machine is fantastic.
posted by wingless_angel at 6:52 AM on May 9, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all for the input. The argument for using the Mac as a universal testing platform (via one of the virtualization options) was a strong addition to the justification.

I wasn't aware of the improved font rendering, but if it results in the reduction of code related eyestrain it will be very welcome indeed.

I'm not certain the Mac will help make me more productive but don't see the harm in trying, as many of my colleagues seem to have switched. I suppose we will see.

@ nicwolff: I was not aware Git ran natively on the Mac. This will be one of the first things I look at. Thank you.

@ snowjoe: I too thought this was quite important in academia, but when I listed this on the justification my supervisor sent it back with a red frowny face. Oh well.
posted by Awkward Turtle at 1:28 PM on May 9, 2008

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